ERIC Number: EJ804191
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Sep
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect: What Do We Know and where Do We Go from Here?
Dai, David Yun; Rinn, Anne N.
Educational Psychology Review, v20 n3 p283-317 Sep 2008
The big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE) refers to the theoretical prediction that equally able students will have lower academic self-concepts in higher-achieving or selective schools or programs than in lower-achieving or less selective schools or programs, largely due to social comparison based on local norms. While negative consequences of being in a more competitive educational setting are highlighted by the BFLPE, the exact nature of the BFLPE has not been closely scrutinized. This article provides a critique of the BFLPE in terms of its conceptualization, methodology, and practical implications. Our main argument is that the BFLPE, while having added to our understanding of the origins of self-concepts, disproportionately emphasizes one aspect of social comparison to the exclusion of many other intervening factors. In light of our critique, we suggest a broader conception of social comparison effects on academic self-concept that emphasizes a more active role of individuals in regulating their social cognition and motivation, as well as a more distinct effect of social-contextual influences. We also suggest alternative research designs that would incorporate contextual, developmental, and individual differences as potential moderators or mediators of the BFLPE.
Descriptors: Self Concept, Academic Ability, Educational Psychology, Social Cognition, Individual Differences, Influences, Research Design, Prediction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A